I am a very blessed lady. I am loved even when I forget that I am, and have a hard time believing anyone could like this "mess" much less love it. But, this year, I was extra blessed--or maybe extra aware of those who bless me.
My husband and kids and family bless me on a daily basis, but the below went out of their way to build me up or pray for me or with me, they shared conversations and hugs or advice, they pushed me or pulled me (or both) to get me where the knew I could go.
Here are my "14" of 2014.
I think she finds the "use" in everyone. I struggle with having a "use" in this life, and when I went out on a HUGE limb and volunteered to help the church in a small way, she not only welcomed it, but declared it perfect. There is nothing"perfect" about what I do--but she decided that I would make a fit that could not only be used, but would thrive. While I just meant to "help," she moved me to the "lead" position and took a great leap of faith in me. While I was happy to do what I can, and give my time to help children in need of clothes and coats any time of year, her confidence in my ability to do the job, and do it well was the greater gift in the transaction. She is among those who made me feel comfortable and like an equal from the first moment I met her. I am one to keep my eyes down and move to the back of the room, she is one to seek those of us out that hide our "light" and she helps you find a way for it to shine bright.
I am a big ole' fat stick in the mud. It is who I am, and I own it. Jill makes it her goal to dig my feet out of that sticky comfortable mud with all her might. Everyone needs someone in their life that makes them loosen up, and find away to laugh in the face of yourself. Jill is that person for me. But, she has a way about her that makes you laugh at yourself and still feel good. She can effectively lift me up and chill me out all in the same conversation, and I am always grateful for her ability to "ground" me.
Sometimes it takes just an innocent remark to spark confidence, and for people like me it will inspire us around the 4th time you mention it. Nancy was not only the first to purchase a dress from me for her daughter (she actually bought 2!!), but she was the first to tell me I should sell them. But, like I said, the 4th time she adamantly mentioned the idea I started to think about it. I credit her for giving me not only the idea, but the confidence to keep trying and to even start my own web-based business.
Of course a minister should bless you. But, in a congregation of several hundred and three Sunday services it can't be easy to minister to each individual "sheep." On my roll of doing all the things I have never done the year I turned 36, I attended my first Bible Study for a 6 week period this summer. Pastor Jay headed up the series on Andy Griffith. Most of you know my love for Andy, so I was 40% excited and 60% terrified to join the group solo (Garren stayed at home with the kids those evenings so I could go). While he touched on many points of life that pertained to me, the one that affected me the most--really, really affected me. You see I have never felt worthy of anything, much less God's love. And, while he looked in the direction of all 20+ people in the room that evening, I will swear that he looked straight in to my eyes and into my heart. He also told someone in the church office I was "awesome" a few weeks ago, and while I rarely feel "awesome" any day of the week, I especially did not that day. A man who has devoted his life to serving God and preaching the good news thought, even if for only a moment, that a struggling stay at home mom of two who isn't sure what in the world God was thinking when he made her--thought I was awesome. A blessing to me.
Gracie's best friend. There are so many words I could use to describe her, but I think the best ones are: "opposite of Gracie." Clara is outgoing and funny (or at least she thinks she is ;), goofy and out spoken. So, you can imagine how different these two are to have around the house. Clara was our Thursday afternoon guest for most of the school year last year. Clara's mom and I allowed the girls one day a week to hang out after school and enjoy "girl time." It is so cute how they are best friends. They are so different, and yet love each other dearly despite, or maybe because of their differences in personality. Clara has taught me so much. Like patience and humility. She is a spunky girl who says whatever she is thinking out loud and she keeps me on my toes. She has taught me to think before I speak not only to her, but all kids. It is so easy to shush a child when they say something that you don't agree with, but they have thoughts and ideas and feelings too, and they won't ever feel a sense of contribution to the world if we tell them to be quiet or not to have an opinion. But mostly this lively sweet girl has blessed me because she loves my daughter. My quiet, shy Gracie takes far too much after her mama and she steps to the rear of life and keeps her head down. But she has a best friend, and one that challenges her personality and the way she handles life--both things she needs. Both things we all need.
I just have the one brother. And, he married a woman who couldn't be more opposite than I. She and I parent differently, talk differently, think differently, handle life differently, speak differently...the list could go on and on. She and Brian have been married now for 6 years, and I don't see them often, and when I do she loves to make me uncomfortable. Whether she is giving my kids sugar, or buying them things like hair dye and gift cards to Justice! or simply telling me things she knows will curl my hair. This is a fun game for her--freaking Barbara out. But, she is also one of the most loving people I know. She is a hugger, and one to say "love you," I don't really do that, and it makes me uncomfortable (with everyone, not just her!!)--but she keeps on trying, and she still says it even though I struggle to return he words. And while that is a blessing in and of itself, this sweet lady, who works 100+ hours a week I think--took time out of her hectic schedule several times this year to just check on me or the kids. She called and didn't have to, she checked in and didn't need to--she honestly wanted to know how I was doing or how the kids were doing. You can't choose your family, and even though I love her and my brother and the 6 niece/nephews she brought in to our family, she doesn't have to care or love us back--and yet she chooses to. Even when we undoubtedly make it very, very hard.
Abby is one of those people I think I am most jealous of. You know the type with the seemingly perfect life and family and home. The kind that look like they belong on a magazine cover. There is reason she seems to have it all--because she gives it all right back. I haven't physically seen her in many years as I left her and so many other people I love back in Strasburg-- the home I miss even to this day (5 years after moving!!). A multi-tasker who is good at everything she has blessed me multiple times this year. Not only does she not miss a birthday--with a real live card and send my kids postcards when she goes different places, but she will type out a HUGE email full of helpful hints, information and encouragement in response to a tear-filled email about how badly you want a house and how badly you need help because you are screwing it up. And, not only will she give you everything she has to help you knowing full well she can't "realtor" where you live, she will seek out a mortgage company to help you too. She will take time away from paying customers to hand-hold you through trying to understand a very complicated process. Because she is the most giving person. And, she will buy more dresses from your new-found online store than any other person. And, she will buy them not because she pities you, but because she believes in you and loves your work. And, then she will encourage her friends to buy from you and liter her Facebook wall with the link to your store.
She has blessed me before, but probably not as big as she did this year. Gracie's friend's mom and principal at our elementary school, she is one who eased my fears this fall. Not only does she trust me with her biggest gift: her daughter and allowed her to spend many Thursdays with Gracie and Clara at our house after school--but she went out of her way to make sure that I could sleep at night in September. You may remember that Thomas started Kindergarten this year, and while my boy is very outgoing and makes friends at the drop of a hat--I am his mama, and I am going to worry. I
Sometimes I am sure she is the only person that understands me. I am so quirky and just plain "nuts," but never once in our 10 year friendship has she thrown up her hands and thrown me away. She listens, and calms me down or builds me up, or tells me to get a grip (which I usually need)...but mostly she just tells me I am not crazy and that she understands. I can't tell you how much of a blessing it is to have someone tell you they understand. It seems so simple, but when you are a mom it is so easy to feel so alone and like you can't do anything right and that you might actually be going insane. And to hear the words of reassurance "I understand," they are the most needed and appreciated of them all.
It takes a lot of faith, and a lot of trust and confidence to let someone take your child or children for any amount of time. I have always believed what a leap of faith it is to leave your children in another persons care. Maybe its because I have a (very) hard time doing that, and don't really do it at all, or maybe because I am a stay at home mom that feels so blessed that I don't have to make that choice--but I know it to be true. So, to trust me, is to bless me. And to share your beautiful girls is to truly bless me. I miss my kids during the day, and those few hours of toddler laughs and giggles and play time renew my soul. Keri's faith in me goes beyond occasional child care opportunities, it goes to mommy chats and suggesting I help with Bible School and to join a Bible Study. It includes inviting my kids to your kids birthday parties and sharing concerns and motherhood woes and joys. It includes words of encouragement over the making of a few dresses.
My Thomas. Surely no one can love him like me. He is mine, and "yup, he's mine." He is a loving sweet boy that is all energy and bounce, and mouth. While I will take all the moments of his life, it takes a patient and loving person to voluntarily take him week after week. Thomas started going to Wednesday nights at Bryce's church last year. Bryce invited him to attend one week as a part of his homework for church, and well....Thomas wanted to go the next week, and the next week, and the next week. I have wrestled over and over again about making him stop going. While his father and I agree that " you can never have too much churchin'," we have a church, and they are using resources for our son that could be better allocated to a child or family without a church or a love or knowledge of Christ. And, yet, session after session, and now year after year, they welcome my boy back with open arms. They include him in their lessons and performances and special events. They take the time each week to give him a much needed lesson in God the Father, and they do it even though we spend Sunday mornings in a different sanctuary. Peggy is Bryce's grandmother, and she shows him just as much love as she shows the other kids in that group. I have seen it. I have felt it and witnessed it. Her heart is big enough for my little handful, and that is of the biggest blessings anyone can give me...and him.
While we are talking about loving my child, I have seen it so much this year. I know it sounds silly to be surprised that others could love my kids--but I guess I see it as my job and no one else's. And while loving Gracie seems easy to me, well, loving Thomas might be a lot harder. But, his Kindergarten teacher does. How do I know? She told me. She told me today, and 20+ times before that. But, that isn't the only way she blessed me this year. You see while she teaches my child, she also taught me a big lesson as well. I make so many excuses for Thomas. He is so different than his sister. He can't sit still, he talks a mile a minute, he is active and bouncy and well... a handful. And, while I sat and listened to this wonderful woman tell me how my child was doing in school, I heard myself make excuse after excuse for him. I explained away his "intelligence" his behavior and in general who he was. I was expecting to be bombarded with all the things my child couldn't do--but unlike me, she saw nothing but the best in him. I left that conference in tears, and I saw one of the biggest failings of my life. I realized that a woman who had known my child for less than 30 days spoke more positively of him than I, who have loved him for more than 5 and a half years. She told me in that meeting that she loved him. And, I looked at her face and I knew it was true. She has blessed me several more times since that meeting, like calling me at home on her own personal time to talk me off a "mommy ledge," and emailing me when I was sure I was screwing it all up--again. There is no bigger blessing that having people in your life who truly love your children-for everything they are, and are not.
By far the kindest soul I have met since we moved here, and maybe forever. Jo not only blesses me just by listening to me, but I think in a lot of ways she understands me too. I am far more
No one has blessed me more this year than Grace. Poor Grace. Her child would have to be-friend the child of the most neurotic, nutty, ridiculous mom in the whole 3 year old preschool class. ;) Good thing God blessed Grace with patience. And, while she would not agree with that statement, that is one of the things that I notice most about her. That and she doesn't run like the wind when I suggest we let the kids play. A woman of amazing faith, I think Grace might be the most grounded individual I know. And, as a test of her faith, God sent her to me. And, she has taken that challenge and run with it. Grace and I have shared play dates, recipes, special occasions, preschool cheers and tears (and frustrations!), Kindergarten apprehension, boys clothes, motherhood successes and (seeming) failures, kid battles and germs...and so much more. All of that is wonderful, but when someone truly shares their life with you, and comforts you and encourages you and lifts you up--they are truly a friend and a blessing. And, when they make you do things that your personality rallies against with every fiber of your being--and you know you'll be okay--that is a blessing too! 10 hours in the car, a strange city, and 2 days of a women's conference with no husbands or kids---and she still wants to hang with me?! That is a blessing. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, God blessed me when he sent you into my life. He totally screwed you--but he blessed me ;) Thanks for hanging around, and finding the strength to pray for me, pray with me, comfort me, encourage me, help me, cry with me, and share your time, talents, energy and grace with me.
I also want to say that several others were awesome to me this year including: Jason, Brian, Becky and Sandy. I picked 14 to match the year, but I was blessed beyond measure this year, and I truly hope that I have been and will continue to be a blessing to others all the years of my life.